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Is milk the ultimate thirst quencher? Yes whey, says study

milk, hydration, exercise, dehydration
McMaster University graduate student Kim Volterman monitors research participant Paige Leonard's heart rate for the study. McMaster University

(CBS) Milk may do a body good, but is it the ultimate thirst-quencher? A new study suggests milk is superior to water and sports drinks at replenishing fluids following exercise.

"Milk is better than either a sports drink or water because it is a source of high-quality protein, carbohydrates, calcium and electrolytes," study author Dr. Brian Timmons, an assistant professor of medicine at McMaster University in Canada, said in a written statement.

Who sponsored the study? The Dairy Farmers of Canada. That begs the question - is the science legit, or udderly ridiculous?

Timmons said milk has a high salt concentration which helps the body retain fluid better and replaces sodium that's lost through sweating.

Others like Dr. Dennis Cardone, a sports medicine expert at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, seem to agree. He told CBS News milk was an "underrated" thirst-quencher.

"Milk is an excellent post-activity drink," Cardone told CBS News. But he said, "I wouldn't say one is necessarily better than the other."

For the study, McMaster researchers had 14 eight to 10-year-olds exercise on a stationary bike for 40 minutes, then gave them either skim milk, water, or a sports drink to measure hydration. After a two hour recovery period, 75 percent of the skim milk was retained in the milk drinkers, compared with 60 percent from the sports drink, and 50 percent from the water. Water drinkers also produced twice as much urine than milk drinkers.

The peer-reviewed findings will be presented in September at a conference on children and exercise in Cornwall, England.

"It is important to note that all three drinks did a decent job at rehydrating the kids," Timmons told CBS News in an email. "Water just doesn't have the same ingredients that help kids replace all of what they've lost when they're active." He said milk would be especially handy in tournaments or sports camps, where kids don't have enough time to hydrate.

Cardone says for short-term exercise, water is probably just as effective for kids. But for activity over 60 minutes, he'd recommend a sports drink to maintain electrolyte balance and replenish sodium to prevent cramping.

But don't be surprised if you see football players dump a gallon of milk on coach after a big win...

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